U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne S. Ferro today met with a broad-based group of motorcoach representatives as part of the department's continuing and unprecedented efforts to improve the safety and oversight of the motorcoach industry and inform the public about safe motorcoach travel.
Today's meeting, which included representatives from law enforcement, tourism and travel groups and state and local government, builds on earlier meetings as well as last week's announcement that FMCSA is deploying more than 50 specially trained safety investigators throughout the country to begin targeted and in-depth inspections of higher risk motorcoach companies.
"Safety is our highest priority and we are committed to keeping those who do not follow our safety rules off the road," said Secretary LaHood. "Today's announcement builds on the recent steps we have taken to create one standard of safety for all passenger travel."
Over the last two months, FMCSA has shut down 15 passenger carriers. Seven were declared imminent hazards and eight were rated "unsatisfactory" following safety compliance reviews. During the same time period, FMCSA and its state enforcement partners have conducted more than 13,500 roadside inspections, resulting in nearly 1,500 driver and vehicle out-of-service violations being issued.
On March 28, Secretary LaHood wrote to the governors of each state to urge their active participation in improving bus safety through stepped-up traffic enforcement to combat dangerous driving behaviors and outreach to their residents on choosing safe operators for their next motorcoach trip.
On April 4, Administrator Ferro contacted thousands of motorcoach executives across the country to inform them of the FMCSA's intensified safety enforcement and to seek their active support of this passenger safety initiative.
FMCSA has also reached out to the International Association of Chiefs of Police to engage its state and local members in increasing traffic enforcement of motorcoaches to strengthen safety on our roadways.
"Through our stepped-up oversight of motorcoach companies and expanding outreach to consumers, the department will continue to raise the bar on motorcoach safety," said Administrator Ferro. "Our work with the law enforcement community and our diverse stakeholders is to make passenger safety everyone's number one priority and to prevent needless tragedies."
As part of FMCSA's work to make safety data readily available to the traveling public, the SaferBus mobile app gives bus riders a quick and free way to review a bus company's safety record before buying a ticket or booking group travel. The SaferBus app, available for iPhone, iPad and Android phone users, can be downloaded for free by visiting FMCSA's "Look Before You Book" webpage at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/saferbus.
Travelers planning a bus trip are also encouraged to think safety first before buying a ticket or chartering a bus by using FMCSA's multilingual passenger carrier safety checklist at: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/pcs/Index.aspx.
FMCSA urges consumers and whistleblowers to report any unsafe bus company, vehicle or driver to the agency through a toll free hotline 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238) or FMCSA's consumer complaint web site: http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov/HomePage.asp.
As to bus companies that FMCSA has recently placed out of service, consumers who paid for their ticket by credit card may be entitled to a credit from their credit card company under the Fair Credit Billing Act. For more information visit: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/pcs/bus-credit-refund.aspx